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Word Up

Just this last week, Merriam-Webster released their updated dictionary for 2008. As you may imagine, the 100 or so new words added each year reflect our current interests, new technologies, or topics in the news. In looking over the list, four came to my attention as they relate to the potential, and the opportunity for misuse, of the Internet. They are, including dates of first appearance: netroots (2003), malware (1990), webinar (1998), and pretexting (1992). Read More »

The Network and the Natural World: Geoffrey Moore Meet Aldo Leopold

Alan S. Cohen, Vice President, Enterprise and Mid-Market Solutions, Cisco Systems

“Ĺ“Our brains developed under the pressure of natural selection to make us great foragers, which is how humans have spent 99% of their time on earth. The presence of flowers, as even I understood as a boy, is a reliable predictor of future food.” — Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire

Over the past two decades, the Internet yielded several well-documented network effects: computer operating systems and networking protocols, real-time communications, the”Internet of Things,” social networking, etc. Now we are seeing a new network effect: the network meeting the natural world.Former Cisco Product Line Manager Matthew Glenn took a long career in networking and combined it with a passion for photosynthesis to create and launch PlantSense (www.plantsense.com), a pioneering Internet company targeted to home botany. PlantSense provides a complete system starting with a physical sensor that is stuck into the ground to determine soil, light, heat, temperature and moisture conditions. The sensor has a USB plug-in that synchs with a web-based database and plant referral system as well as a social network for plant aficionados. Based on the sensor’s data and the geography (inputted as a zip code), PlantSense’s smart advisor prescribes which plants will thrive in that locale. PlantSense is sort of like a routed network for plants, but instead of computing the optimal route for a signal, it computes what will optimally grow. Read More »

The Network Inside

Those of us focused on IT concerns about security, QoS, video, the last mile, management, and usability in the business word can sometimes forget that our own households have evolved in a few short years to become microcosms of many of the same trends. It’s complicated stuff, to be sure. In fact, a few months ago, David Pogue reported in his New York Times blog that 30 percent of home networking gear ends up getting returned to the store. So what’s the problem? I think it’s the fundamental issue that plagues IT organizations in the business world: insufficient pre-planning of what I’m calling the HAN (Home Area Network). The challenges, albeit on a lesser scale, are no different than that which confront network administrators on a daily basis. Traffic and resources need to be managed, and that calls for sufficient bandwidth and equipment with intelligence. Read More »

Cisco TelePresence: The Answer to High Gas Prices?

July 3, 2008 at 12:00 pm PST

CNBC’s Jim Goldman reports on Cisco TelePresence and how it might be utilized to save on corporate travel. The piece can be viewed on the Bay Area’s NBC website here. Cisco’s Charles Stucki and David Hsieh are interviewed and our Chairman and CEO John Chambers says that Cisco will save $180M in travel savings utilizing TelePresence. I had a TelePresence session earlier this week between San Jose, CA and Montvale, NJ and I can tell you that, other than shaking the other person’s hand, it is as good as being there.

Look Ma, No Hands

July 1, 2008 at 12:00 pm PST

Today, all California drivers have to utilize hands-free technology in order to talk on their phones in their car. I, for one, couldn’t be more pleased. Since moving to California in 1999, I’ve lamented the, ahem, driving skills of Californians. Talking on cell phones certainly contributed to the lack of using turn signals phenomena and other less than stellar California driving techniques. I hope that now that this law is in effect that our collective driving skills and safety will increase on California roads. Certainly, technology will play a role in developing the “in car” telephony experience with voice instructions (and voice texting?) likely to become more prevalent. My phone has voice dialing, but I don’t currently utilize it, but in honor of July 1 hands-free car phone day, I may just explore utilizing this feature. Coming soon (I’m sure) will be voice activated navigation (go to “300 East Tasman Drive in San Jose, CA” for example) rather than the rather klunky entering the town, street, street number system that is prevalent. And, then of course, we’ll all have web based traffic reports that tells our car which way to go in order to get to our destination the quickest. Ain’t technology grand?